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Voter Registration Declines

Commissioners Predict Larger Turnout in October

By Julian E. Barnes, Crimson Staff Writer

The number of people registered to vote in the city so far this year has dipped well below the mark set in recent elections, according to the Cambridge Election Commission.

A week remains before the registration deadline for the fall primaries, but as of July 1 only 41,542 had registered to vote--56 percent of the nearly 72,000 eligible voters.

That number is decidedly lower than in previous years. Election Commission Chair Edward J. Samp Jr. attributed the low number to the fact that few offices were being contested in the September elections.

But Sand and other Cambridge election commissioners predicted the numbers would rise dramatically just before the fall elections.

"It is little below [usual]...but we are not really worried that there has been a terrible fall off," Samp said.

There are many last minute registrants, especially in Cambridge, where students make up a substantial amount of the electorate, according to the election commissioners.

"Students do not care about the city elections but they do care about the presidential elections," said Samp, who also expects registration num- bers to jump after Harvard and MIT classesresume.

Registration numbers go in cycles, and thenumber of registered votes is usually the lowestin the summer before a presidential electionbefore peaking in the months just prior to thatelection, said Commissioner Sondra Scheir.

Last year 44,600 people were registered tovote. In 1989, 46,000 registered and in 1988-- thelast presidential election--49,662 peopleregistered.

Scheir predicted that between 6000 and 8000more people would register before this year'sOctober 6 deadline.

But commissioners acknowledged that the numberswere low and attributed part of the dip to voterapathy and anger with the political system.

"Maybe what we're hearing is disenchantmentwith the process," said Commissioner Darleen G.Bonislawski.

Samp says that the number of people registeredto vote is a function of "how interested peopleare in politics."

And commissioners were quick to defend theirown office's efforts to register voters, citingmany initiatives to bring out the vote, includingvisits to area schools and sidewalk tables inevery ward.

"If there is a lack [of registered voters],it's not due to a lack of effort by the city ofCambridge," Bonislawski said

Registration numbers go in cycles, and thenumber of registered votes is usually the lowestin the summer before a presidential electionbefore peaking in the months just prior to thatelection, said Commissioner Sondra Scheir.

Last year 44,600 people were registered tovote. In 1989, 46,000 registered and in 1988-- thelast presidential election--49,662 peopleregistered.

Scheir predicted that between 6000 and 8000more people would register before this year'sOctober 6 deadline.

But commissioners acknowledged that the numberswere low and attributed part of the dip to voterapathy and anger with the political system.

"Maybe what we're hearing is disenchantmentwith the process," said Commissioner Darleen G.Bonislawski.

Samp says that the number of people registeredto vote is a function of "how interested peopleare in politics."

And commissioners were quick to defend theirown office's efforts to register voters, citingmany initiatives to bring out the vote, includingvisits to area schools and sidewalk tables inevery ward.

"If there is a lack [of registered voters],it's not due to a lack of effort by the city ofCambridge," Bonislawski said

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